Five years ago the group of ladies from Texas that I am friends with got together on this island, in this beautiful old house. Back then our friendship was still relatively new. And it was somewhat exotic too, since the friendship had formed over the Internet, as an offshoot of a parent's listserve from the college where Daniel attended his freshman year.
We first got to know each other by chatting about everything you can imagine, usually in emails and instant messaging, more rarely in occasional lunches and visits. We lived far away from each other for the most part, yet in some ways we had gotten to know each other very well. We struggled at times, since we were all very different in some ways, and the nuances of communication sometimes were lost in print.
We had a great time visiting each other 5 years ago, and when the generous woman whose family owned this house suggested doing it again 5 years later, we all gladly agreed.
But a lot can happen in 5 years. People move on with their lives. Illness has stricken several of our members, or their husbands, making it difficult for them to travel. One member died from breast cancer last year. We are fewer in number on the island than we would have hoped, but still, here we are.
Our visit was planned for the first week in October this time, and we hoped that the leaves would be changing so that the ladies that came here from Texas would get to see them. But, it's been a very strange fall here in New England. It's been warm, and wet, and everything is still green. In fact yesterday, our first full day on the island, it rained cats and dogs. Some hurricane swirling off in the Atlantic dumped incredible amounts of water on Cushings Island.
It's hard not to compare this visit with our previous one. We are less silly, and more comfortable with each other this time. We are less excited, but more content. We have fought our battles, settled our disagreements, laughed together, and cried together. We are friends.
This morning the rain stopped, but it was still cloudy, and very wet. I went for a walk on the island, taking pictures of the old houses, and the bits of fall color here and there. It was beautiful and I was feeling both happy and a little melancholy too. As I walked along, taking pictures of berries, rocks and lighthouses, the sun started to come out from behind the clouds. Beautiful light bathed the island. We took pictures of each other, smiling together, and put rocks into a wall for the members that couldn't be with us this time.
Will we meet again 5 years from now? Will we meet here in Maine, or somewhere else? What will have changed in our lives by then? Most of our children have graduated from college. Some have married, and some have even started having babies.
As the sun begins to set on the island I'm sending out good wishes and hopes for the coming year. It's the beginning of the Jewish New Year, so that seems pretty appropriate to me. May we all have a good year, may all our children and families be healthy and happy, and may we continue to enjoy each other's company, where-ever we may be.
To read about our visit to Cushing's Island 5 years ago click here.